March 23, 2012

Today is the Day

Luck would have it that yesterday around noon I get a text from Margaret, who is currently studying in India, that she threw up for the first time in 10 years. Today she told me that she is having problems with both ends of things.

I get home and see that Mali has had a military coup. I have a friend studying there and word is that she is fine, but of all countries, I did not see Mali as the next one to overthrow their government.

Senegal has elections on Sunday and who knows how those will turn out.

These are the things that make my stomach tight. They make me question my sanity. They make me cross my fingers, wish on a star, say a prayer, that where I am going will be peaceful. That where I am going will be safe and calm.

But my own fears are calmed when I think about the people who don't have a say about whether they live in these countries. People who don't have the means to leave if things get rough. People who are just grateful to be alive today, eat today, work today, and go to school today. Moreover, I feel so proud knowing that I am going to Gambia knowing that I will be giving kids tools that they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.

Yesterday in all of my classes we had parties. I showed all of my kids a map of Africa and then pointed out Gambia to them. I told them about where I would be staying and what I would be doing. They were so amazed (all be it mostly by the fact that where I will be staying has no air-conditioning and less by some of the Gambia history I told them). While I was walking out to my car my heart felt so heavy, I didn't know leaving was going to be this hard. I love those kids and I wish them the absolute best. That feeling in that moment made everything worthwhile: the early mornings; the late night planning; the frantic grading.

I don't know what to expect of my students or my school in Gambia. But I do know this. I cannot wait to meet my students and I cannot wait to sit down with them and learn about their lives. I am going to try my best to be the best teacher I can for these kids. I hope I can give them skills they can use throughout their lives and I hope that they will open up and let me into their school community.

But for now I am going to go hug my father goodbye and spend the morning with my Mom around town. The next time I post I will be in GAMBIA!

March 20, 2012

We are off again!

On Friday I leave for Gambia, a small country in west Africa (see map below). There I will be teaching for six weeks as a part of my Masters in the Art of Teaching program. The program has been pretty vague about where I will be teaching, but let me tell you what I do know. I am traveling with three other girls; Jess, Kelly, and Allie. Jess and I will be teaching secondary; while Kelly and Allie will be teaching pre-school. I believe I will be working in an all girls school, but that has not been confirmed. I am living in a compound called "Happy Camp", also known as the Tubab (foreigner) Palace. The building apparently towers over all surrounding buildings. We will have a man bring us eggs and milk every morning for breakfast, the program gives us a small stipend for lunch, and a woman comes to the house and makes us dinner. There is wireless internet in one room of the house, the library, and only five people can be on the internet at once. I have to teach in skirts, and pants/shorts are highly discouraged to wear when in public. The current temperature is in the low 100s and I need to take malaria pills.

All in all I know very little, this I find terrifying. I am a planner. Sometimes it scares me how anal I am about organizing things and making myself feel like I am in control. However, after Egypt, I thankfully have learned how to disassociate myself from some things that I have absolutely no way to control. I am preparing myself to get back into Inshallah time, and praying that I don't have a student tell me that Inshallah bukra they will turn their work in to me. (I should come up with a good retort though if someone does try that).

During my time abroad I am going to try my very best to update my blog weekly; however, with the unreliability of electricity/internet I do not know how likely that will be. I will also be blogging at , which is the blog affiliated with my MAT program, there you will also be able to read the blogs of the other people who I will be traveling with. I look forward to keeping in touch with everyone!

The Gambia is a tiny country located on the west coast of Africa. You can barely see it in this picture because when the British colonized this land they sailed their ships down the Gambian river, firing cannon balls off the ship onto the river banks. Where the cannon balls landed marked the territory that Britain claimed. This resulted in a small country, the second smallest in the world, that snaked with the Gambian river. 

In this picture you can see Gambia off on the left. It is the brown line in the middle of Senegal.

July 31, 2011

July 9, 2011

New Beginnings

This week marked the first week of my MAT year! I worked with all of the other wonderful interns in my cohort as camp counselors this week for a Gear Up camp put on by Quantum Learning. The kids who we worked with came from four Prince George's County high schools. They all have shown promise in their schooling; however, when they get to that point they will be first generation college students. Therefore, we all came together to work with them on study skills, and interpersonal skills so they will have all of the necessary tools to make it after high school.

Before we go any further I would like to give everyone some background on how things have been going in my life for the past few months. Let's start back at the end of April...I had finished writing my SMP (St. Mary's  Project, thing undergraduate thesis) and sent it to my adviser. I had a pretty solid powerpoint and scripted speech to present on May 2nd to the entire history department, my friends, and my family. When, as stories go, May 1st rolled around and my hardrive crashed. I had my SMP backed up, but not my powerpoint and script. Needless to say I was a mess. Then on the way to Annapolis to have my hardrive replaced a rock flew up, hit my windshield, and cracked it. Margaret was in the car with me and I hate to say it, but saw me at my absolute lowest. But she was a trooper and kept me sane.

All in all the presentation went well. YAY! But that whole experience put me in such a funk.

Gala was wonderful. I got to see several tipsy professors, always a fun thing. Graduation came and went. The moment everyone looks forward to I approached with lots of apprehension. This whole year I have been comforted by the fact that I would be back on campus. I didn't have to worry like everyone else about impending adulthood. And then the world fell on me all at once. My. God. I'm really here. I had been talking about getting a Masters since High School when I found out I would be going here. But now it was a reality. My five year plan was complete. After this, I'm done.

My mine was on rapid crazy chaotic mode. Where do I go from here? I hadn't had to think about the future, and I had finally put on the shoes that I was so grateful I didn't have to worry about my senior year of college.

This pressure haunted me for the six weeks that I was home. I began to look into PhD programs and look inside me to figure out what in the world I wanted out of my life. Where do I want to be by the time I'm 30? 50? 100?

I'm a worrier. And I think I had perfected the art by the time I got here at the end of June. I was so concerned that this program was going to start and I was going to realize that I really hated the one thing I have ever wanted to do with my life, teaching. But I can say without a doubt after this camp that I know I am working towards everything that I want and need out of my life.

Do to the length of this post I'm going to put the rest of my week with the camp in another post.....more to come soon!

June 6, 2011

Where do we go now?

You know those moments when you meet someone who you know will change your life forever? I read The Five People You Meet in Heaven the other day and have been thinking about the lessons and stories that are told within the pages of that book. They are as follows:

1. When one person dies or leaves our life we shouldn't focus on the loss, rather we should focus on how we can grow by having had known that person. "Birth and death are part of a whole".

2. Always aspire to sacrifice. For you do not know how one small sacrifice might help to improve someone else's life.

3. We should always forgive, "Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from the inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves."

4. "Life has to end...Love doesn't". Love should always be our number one goal, above anything else.

5. Even if we don't think we are where we are supposed to be in our lives, we need to trust that we are on the right path. We all have a purpose, even though we might not see it right now.

School is ending, and graduates worldwide are being told they can do anything. We can change the world. We have the tools and opportunity to make civilization better. And to some, this might be comforting to hear. We can change the world.

But I find this horribly intimidating. I do want to change the world, but I only want to change it for the better. If I had it my way war would end, diseases would stop spreading, and every person on this planet would never feel hunger, pain, or sadness. And my greatest fear is that I will do something to change the world for the worse!

But I find my hope in the last sentence of Five People.  Eddie, the main character, share's his lesson about life; we should know, "that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one."

We are all one people. And what I do in my life will inevitably affect the whole. In the five lessons listed above I see one motif that all share; love. And I know that the Beatles said it better when they simply said, "All you need is Love". But that is where this rambling has gotten me. Maybe all we do need is love. Love for ourselves; which gives us hope and trust in the future. Love for others; which allows us to be our best self in our community. And Love for Love; so we can continually be inspired.

On a more personal level. I graduated from college in May with my Bachelors in History with minors in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies; and Education. I will being my Masters program to get my Masters in the Art of Teaching in July. It's summer so you will probably hear more of my ramblings until the work picks up! 

September 6, 2010


Nawal el Saadawi writes in her autobiography Memoirs from the Women's Prison, " The greatest attribute of human beings is that we forget. Would I have survived...without the ability to forget?"

But my question is should we forget? Does it really benefit us, forgetting?

August 25, 2010

I really need to disconnect from the Internet...

Warning: There are some nasty slurs in this post and harsh language.

I was having a talk with my best friend the other day and we decided that there are times in my life when I really just need to get away from technology for a while because it only leads to making me a very irritated person.

I saw this conversation the other day on a friends Facebook regarding the Mosque at ground zero...

Those stupid towelheads are tryin to put a mosque as a sign of victory right on ground zero where over 3,000 americans died. Thats basically like spittin right on there graves. How dare the president of our country endorse such a thing. Well I'll tell you this much the only way those fuckin towelheads will ever put a mosque near the hallowed ground zero is over my dead body. OORAH!

And a friend of his replies...

FUCK YEAH!!!!! Those fucking sand niggers are gonna be hurtin. fuck them if they think building their bull shit is gonna work, guarantee they put it up i dont give it long before we blow it up. hopeufully during service, might as well get em all, SEMPER FI!!!!!!!

The conversation goes on and on but I thought I would chop it down a bit. 

This is one example of a conversation between two grown adults in the United States over this issue. 


Really Y'all. 

This is what American Patriotism has come down to? Not only am I ashamed, but I'm embarrassed and furious that someone has enough gall to talk this way about a religion and culture that they clearly don't understand. I'm also terrified because the two people holding this discussion are members of our military. 

Here is another article which supports my opinion of the's written a bit more eloquently then the opposing views I have presented above.

Inshallah, God willing, one day soon we will all be able to laugh at this controversy and hold each other close regardless of our religions or cultures. But until then I will always fight for equality and justice. After all the first Amendment to the constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". And that seems pretty clear to me what we need to do.